Day 4 was the sprint race – less than 4km in length, and rumours of the terrain being very different to the previous days’. The fact that the walk to the start from the assembly area (and finish) was over 3km left the JOKers wondering whether the course would be a straight line back to the finish. In fact, the walk to the start essentially went right around the competition area – three sides of a square.
The terrain certainly was different, and of the several hundred maps I have orienteered on, this one was up there in the unusual stake. The first two-thirds of the course were on open, flat rock, with crevices and gullies abounding, as well as plenty of heather. I launched into the race from the off (it is a sprint after all – every second counts) and proceeded to make the biggest mistake of my whole five days. I spectacularly misjudged the difficulty of the map (just because you can see far doesn’t mean you can see all the controls!) and the scale (1:10000) and took over nine minutes to the first control, whereas I should have done it in under 3 minutes (and the elites in well under 2.) I got confused by the positions of the small lakes and ended up running more than twice the distance needed, beyond the control. In the map extract here, I ended up at the small lake at the top.
The rest of the course was OK in general. No. 3 was wedged down a gully about 80cm wide – one way in and out, for most people, except me – I instead jumped directly on the control from the crag above, almost squashing several other runners in the process. I made another big mistake at number 9 (going from SW to NE on the other extract here. Here, it started to rain and I found it quite difficult to see. The control was considerably further to the east than I thought. The nature of a sprint race is that you have to just go for it, so I was running around madly every time I made a mistake – often making it worse.
My time in the end was not unreasonable considering two big mistakes and at least two smaller ones. The area was superb to orienteer on, really unusual and a real test of initiative. Just a shame I didn’t rise to the occasion here. I’d love to do more of this kind of orienteering though. I would call it “Scrambl-O.”